Friday, July 28, 2006

I am such a dork.

Unfortunately, I was only able to catch the last 10 minutes or so of the reading by Amy Tan and Billy Collins at the
Southampton Writers' Conference last night because I had evening classes. But I stuck around and bought two things for the signing, Amy Tan's latest release Saving Fish from Drowning and an anthology of poetry with a foreword by Billy Collins. Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. I got them to sign the books, but I was so nervous that I was completely tongue-tied. I didn't know what to say to Amy Tan, I mean, it's Amy Tan! She asked me if I was in the writing program here and I mumbled some weird reply and just felt really awkward. Billy Collins asked me how I was enjoying the conference and I mumbled some stupid reply, and I left feeling like, Wow I am such a dork.

But hey, this is the first writer's conference I've ever been to. If there's a certain quota of karmic stupidity and dorkiness that one has to go through in life before they become cool, hey, at least I'm being a dork when I'm just a nobody-wanna-be writer, right?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Career investments

So I finally sucked it up and shelled out the cash to join the Romance Writers of America. It's one of the largest and most powerful writers' organizations in the United States, and super-cushy with almost all the major publishing houses. What kept me away from it for awhile was the fact that it's pricey to join ($100!!!!!) and the fact that when you join, you're only joining the National Chapter. You've got to put out more money (though not nearly as much) to join the local chapter or any of the special interest chapters like Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal. Not to mention that I have issues with an organization that sanctions a sub-genre based on race (Arabesque or African-American Romance is considered a sub-genre). But going with the idea that change is more effective from the inside, I've decided to join, because as a member (theoretically) I get a say in their policies, and for the power this organization wields, that's a lot. They also offer numerous networking opportunities for published and unpublished authors, agents and editors, and as networking is invaluable to nearly any career, well on the advice of authors like Sunny I figured I'd give it a shot (even if it is a financially painful shot for this poor grad student; hey its an investment right?).

Investing further in my writing career, I'm going to the Southampton Writers' Conference held at Stony Brook this week. Last night, I got to see one of my favorite authors, E.L. Doctorow speak. Of course I ended up buying another copy of Ragtime for him to sign, and City of God which I haven't read yet. The conference is definitely features authors of a much more highbrow literary persuasion, like Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Billy Collins and Frank McCourt but I hope to be able to pick up some good tips and info to the writing craft. (Plus I'm able to attend because of a student discount which made attending this conference a steal: Thank you anonymous donor who made this possible!)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


From the NYTimes: The lower Tien Shan mountains. In Kyrgyzstan, 94 percent of the land covered by mountains.

Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country that is affordable, adventurous and accessible, with a Muslim population so moderate it’s not uncommon to see mothers in bikinis drinking beer on the beach.

Even before I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Central Asia and the Silk Road, I've been fascinated with the steppes and mountains of Central Asia. The NYTimes has had a Frugal Traveler series this summer, and this week, he writes from Kyrgyzstan. There are so many amazing wonders to be explored beyond our own cultural and geographical boundaries of our nation. If you haven't been able to tell, I'm fascinated by people and cultures and different ways of thinking and doing things.

In Central Asia, there's been traditionally a very different strain of Judaism and Islam. In "Hundred Thousand Fools of God" by ethnomusicologist Theodore Levin, there are stories of certain areas, shaped by the diversity and mixing of Silk Road Culture, away from the broader rivalries of Muslims and Jews for hundreds of years, where they not only live in peace, but are integral to each other's culture. In fact, in one area, a Muslim wedding is absolutely unthinkable, without the blessing of a Jewish wedding singer.

I know I'll make it to Kyrgyzstan some day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Immortal Revenge?

Recently I was asked where as a writer, I get my ideas from. I get ideas from everywhere; everything I read, things I see, sounds I hear, everything has a story behind it, or has implications for something that might be stewing in my mind. Take a recent editorial from the New York Times, He Who Cast the First Stone, Probably Didn't, which talks about how aggressive actions, like throwing a punch at someone, are generally thought to be ok, if you're attacking some one who hit you without provocation.

After all, it is wrong to punch anyone except a puncher, and our language even has special words — like “retaliation” and “retribution” and “revenge” — whose common prefix is meant to remind us that a punch thrown second is legally and morally different than a punch thrown first.

That’s why participants in every one of the globe’s intractable conflicts — from Ireland to the Middle East — offer the even-numberedness of their punches as grounds for exculpation.

The problem with the principle of even-numberedness is that people count differently. Every action has a cause and a consequence: something that led to it and something that followed from it. But research shows that while people think of their own actions as the consequences of what came before, they think of other people’s actions as the causes of what came later.

In a study conducted by William Swann and colleagues at the University of Texas, pairs of volunteers played the roles of world leaders who were trying to decide whether to initiate a nuclear strike. The first volunteer was asked to make an opening statement, the second volunteer was asked to respond, the first volunteer was asked to respond to the second, and so on. At the end of the conversation, the volunteers were shown several of the statements that had been made and were asked to recall what had been said just before and just after each of them.

The results revealed an intriguing asymmetry: When volunteers were shown one of their own statements, they naturally remembered what had led them to say it. But when they were shown one of their conversation partner’s statements, they naturally remembered how they had responded to it. In other words, volunteers remembered the causes of their own statements and the consequences of their partner’s statements.

What seems like a grossly self-serving pattern of remembering is actually the product of two innocent facts. First, because our senses point outward, we can observe other people’s actions but not our own. Second, because mental life is a private affair, we can observe our own thoughts but not the thoughts of others. Together, these facts suggest that our reasons for punching will always be more salient to us than the punches themselves — but that the opposite will be true of other people’s reasons and other people’s punches.

Now, this is very true, from 9/11 to the Middle East. Are the Israelis attacking with or without justification? Do suicide bombers have justification for what they're doing? Answers to that are probably better debated elsewhere, but from this article, I began thinking about the nature of immortals. Long-lived human beings / immortals have been a staple of fairy tales and fantasies for a long time. With such comparatively larger life-experiences, they're bound to have different reactions and perceptions to things and events then the average person (i.e. the woman born in 1776 will not have the same attitude towards marriage as the woman born in the 1980s; if your grandmother doesn't have the same attitude as you, the woman born 200 years ago certainly won't).

So, will a long-lived immortal be less violent and less likely be angsting for revenge like a 19 year old boy? Theoretically someone who had been around that long would have actually seen the long-range price of violence and revenge. For example, someone born in Europe around 1776 would have seen the excesses of the French Revolution, the maneuvers of Napoleon, the trenches of WWI and the horrors of WWII. Think of some of the veterans you might know or attitudes they might have toward war. Would someone who had seen all that still react in the same way toward a perceived slight that the rest of us had?

Many immortal beings that I read about don't have any of the logical cultural implications that living so long would entail. I think the few authors who have even gotten close are Catherine Asaro and Charles DeLint. In one of her books, the Euban Queen actually draws upon her vast hundreds of years of experience and thinks very differently from other Traders. In DeLint's books, some of his immortals have been around for so long (since before Earth was made) that they can't function in this reality. Their experiences have been too much and too long.

Right now, I'm working on a heroine who was born in 1776. Reading her attitude towards marriage (she's vehemently against marriage) she sounds like a modern day femi-nazi, but she remembers a time when women were property and lost all their rights when they did get married.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Year of Reading 2006: 6 month update

Wow, for someone who purports to be a fantasy / science fiction writer, only lately have I actually been reading much in the genre. What's surprising to me is the number of nonfiction books that I do read. Some have been for school obviously, others, out of interest or researching story ideas.

And it also occurs to me that this list doesn't include the number of ebooks I read. Yes I read ebooks, in fact I review them for a website that shall remain unnamed, and under a pseudonym because I don't want anything I say about a book to come back and bite me from people in the publishing profession that may hold a grudge, which might not be so good for an unpublished writer like me.

Year of Reading: Books of 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Censorship in the world's most populous democracy

Quick - what do India, Pakistan, China and Ethiopia have in common?

It’s not a love of cricket. Or clandestine nuclear arms programs. Or even a fondness for flatbread.

They’re all - apparently - blocking

Read the rest here via Amitava Kumar

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Second Blog Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

The Second Blog Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is up over at Kalinara's blog!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Pology is free excellent online magazine featuring photos and essays about traveling, the kind of traveling that forces you to step outside your boundaries and confront life. There are some amazing photos here as well as well-written essays about discovery.

From the editor:

In a time where representations of the world are fed to us through polarized lenses, traveling has become of supreme importance. Traveling can remind us that in any situation there are multiple and often conflicting truths. Traveling can humble us, and remind us of how little we know. Immersion in a new culture can force us to see a beauty in the world that all too easily gets lost in the routine of the mundane. On our pages you will find impassioned vignettes of cultural exploration. Too much of today's travel writing focuses on where to stay, eat and shop, but I'm convinced that there is a breed of traveler out there that knows getting lost and having the details unfold spontaneously is what leads to the stories that can be fondly retold for the rest of your life.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Places I've been

(in no particular order)

1. Seattle,WA
2. Beijing, China
3. Moscow, Russia
4. Tokyo, Japan
5. Paris, France
6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
7. Quebec, Canada
8. Rome, Italy
9. Shanghai, China
10.Washington D.C.
11.Florence, Italy
12.Magnitogorsk, Russia
13.Kaifeng, China

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The whore that saved the world

I just finished reading Kushiel's Scion, the fourth in a series by fantasy author Jacqueline Carey. She's one of my favorite authors in the fantasy genre; her books are lush, evocative, with themes that resonate throughout history, and an excellent literary style that brings you into the story with all five senses.

But what I really love is that the first three books of the series is features a non-stereotypical strong heroine. Essentially, Phedre, is a whore (and I'm using the word in a positive way to reclaim it from all it's negative connotations). She performs physical services in exchange for compensation. But aside fromo that, Phedre breaks the stereotype because she's a whore who saves the world, not by picking up a sword and fighting and getting all alpha-girl in Wonder Woman way (not that I don't love those characters, but sometimes it's easy to think that female heroes have to save the world in the same manner that a man might chose to) but she saves the world essentially by being a whore.

For Phedre, sex is power and she uses that quite skillfully in a world governed by a religion where the foremost precept is Love as thou wilt. In the world of Terre D'Ange, sex is not dirty; it's a celebration of love and life. As a result, whores are sacred and respected for their services in the way that doctors are. I really enjoyed this series not just for the gorgeous prose, but for the completely different depiction of a what a female heroine is.

Kushiel's Scion the 4th book set in the world of Terre D'Ange is the story of Imriel, Phedre's foster son and the real son of her deadliest enemy, Melisande Shaihrizai. Melisande and Phedre are enemies in the classic, opposite sides of the coin in that Magneto/Xavier kind of way with respect, love, and hate entwined in all their interactions. Although I didn't think Kushiel's Scion is as strong as Kushiel's Dart, it was wonderful to return to the world of Terre D'Ange. Moreover, this novel is different in that it features a hero who has been emotionally damaged by forced sex with implications of rape at an early age (though I was disappointed to see the author do some shying away of actual rape of the hero, though the question is still up in the air). In general, premises like this usually feature women. It will be interesting to see how Carey deals with sex, rape and its implications for a hero's masculinity. Can a male hero have been raped, come to terms with it, find sex as a source of power and fulfillment and still be considered a hero? If female heroines can, why not male heroes?

Pirates of the Caribbean (I'm going to spoil your fun)

Pirates are fun right?

Oyceter had a recent post on race and racism in the recent movie Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Race and Pirates

And I watched, and I grew more and more uncomfortable. Jack Sparrow and crew run amok of cannibals. The cannibals, are, of course, Black. They have face paint and random piercings; they have made Jack Sparrow their king. He speaks to them in terms like, "Licka licka, savvy?" There are a few people of color in his pirate crew, but their speaking parts are small, and they all have very strong accents. Or they don't speak at all and lend their faces to the motley look of the crew. The main character of color is a Black woman, a voodoo witch or something, with eyeballs in jars, blackened teeth, and an accent so strong that I couldn't understand her half the time.

While I was noticing this and noticing the fact that there were no non-stereotyped portrayals of people of color, I was growing more and more uncomfortable with this awareness. I'm actually very ashamed to say this, but I kept thinking of things like, "Oh, is it really that bad?" and "It's just a movie" and "Really, it's about pirates, what can you expect?" and "It's all in good fun."

Except... it isn't.

And I can't get over the fact that even though I had been reading about race right before the movie, noticing the stereotypes and being critical of race in the movie made me incredibly uncomfortable and squirmy, so much so that I tried to rationalize it away. I spent the first half of the movie squirming and becoming more and more aware of the fact that my mind kept trying to slip away from the topic of race, kept trying to not confront it and come up with more and more reasons why it really wasn't that bad.

Except... it is that bad.

It is bad that I cannot think about race without this extreme uncomfortableness, that I cannot do it without attempting to rationalize and excuse, that I cannot do it even after reading about it and being fully committed to speaking out. And it is even worse, because I know if I had seen the movie without having read the Tatum beforehand, I would have noticed, but I would have let myself brush it off, let myself not post about it.

I didn't even post about this last night because it made me so uncomfortable.

Read the rest here

It's easy to turn a discussion like this into white vs. black or some other stupid thing like white=racism=bad. But I think that it's ok to know this movie is racist, and yet enjoy it. Alot of the arguments made for POTC can also be made for Lord of the Rings (and don't even get me started on how much I dislike Tolkien's use of female characters), a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.

There are some works (see my Fahrenheit 451 post) that I cannot enjoy, simply because for my personal tastes, it reflects a view of society that I find offensive. At the same time, I think of myself as a staunch free speech advocate. I think artists should never be forced to censor themselves. The only solution is to make more informed decisions about your choice of entertainment.

As for POTC, it's a choice that everyone has to make for themselves. Personally, I don't think I will see the movie until it comes out on DVD and I can get for free at the library, but I'm not going to call those who enjoy the movie racists.

Every dollar you spend in fact, is a political act. You buy sweatshop labor at Wal-Mart, sandwiches at the local deli made by illegal immigrants, gasoline to fill your car that is being subsidized by American soldiers, etc. You can try and live in denial about the effects of the American lifestyle, or you can accept it and live with the fact that in the daily course of living you do harm and let that drive you to make better choices and do better things.

As a writer, I write about strong female characters and strong supporting male heroes whose masculinity isn't threatened by women like Buffy or Wonder Woman. I also write characters who are diverse in terms of race and class, and use my knowledge of history to try and make insular Americans better informed about the outside world around them. Writing fiction may not produce as drastic results as feeding the poor in Rwanda (which I have seriously considered doing), and may seem more frivolous, but I think that people learn more from pop culture and fiction then they're even aware of, which is why POTC, a frivolous movie deserves serious consideration as to what it conveys about our commercial culture.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Why I can't stand "Classic Science Fiction"

The following are portions of a feminist critique of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 that I wrote for a recent science fiction class. Although Bradbury himself would be appalled at this interpretation, I think the criticism is valid.


Published in 1953, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 envisions a
dystopian future in which conformity and censorship are the norm.
Books are burned rather than read, and fireman Guy Montag is among
those who do the burning. In Bradbury's futuristic society,
nonconformity, individuality, and free thought are seen as sources of
needless social conflict. Guy's wife Mildred, a pill-popping
housewife who considers to the TV sets in the wall as her "family"
comes across to most readers as the epitome of an individual molded
into brainlessness by a society discourages individual expression.
However, Mildred's innate dissatisfaction, and failure to connect with
her husband can also be seen as the consequences of expectations of
female conformity in 1950s America, later recognized in Betty
Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.

Many have pointed to the publication of The Feminine Mystique in
1963, as the starting point for the contemporary women's movement. In
America during the mid-twentieth century, the ideal woman was
envisioned to be a domestic housewife who found meaning and identity
through her family. However, many women were finding that despite
achievement of this upper middle class dream, they felt empty, as if
they were leading meaningless lives. Society said otherwise, leading
many women to blame this problem on themselves, resulting in high
rates of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and suicide.

Similarly, in Fahrenheit 451, Mildred's personality is not only shaped by a censored society but by the expectations that keep her at
home. These completely separate gendered spheres contributed to the
social isolation and alienation felt by both Guy and Mildred. In
Mildred's case, her emotional estrangement comes not only from the
censored society but from her husband's expectations and reactions to
her experiences as a domestic housewife.

The reader's first introduction to Mildred finds her lying in bed
in the dark, plugged into headphones. "There had been no night in the
last two years that Mildred," had not been plugged into "great tides
of sound" which carried away from the physical world (12). Guy
stumbles and realizes that his wife has overdosed on pills. He finds
"her eyes all glass, and breath going in and out, softly, faintly…and
her not caring whether it came or went, went or came" (13). Poor
Mildred looks like a hollow empty doll, a description which will serve
as an allegory for Mildred's personality, at least in Guy's eyes.

By the next morning, Mildred is fine, if in denial. In response to
Guy's question about her overdose, Mildred says, "I wouldn't do a
thing like that…what would I want to go and do a silly thing like that
for?" (19). The reasons for her suicide attempt are never made clear.
Mildred is either unaware, or pretends that it never happened.

In any case, Guy doesn't spend much time, if any, investigating the
reasons behind Mildred's suicide attempt. He's too intrigued by
strange 17-year-old Clarisse and the reasons behind his job. Guy's
concerns are with Clarisse and his own life outside of the house and
not with his wife. As a result, it is not surprising that Mildred
tells Guy that the old woman he burned is "nothing to her," because to
Mildred, Guy was just doing his job and the old woman was a criminal
(51). To housewife Mildred, Guy's job has no relevance to her life,
other than what they can afford.

Just as Mildred shows little interest in what's troubling her
husband, Guy takes little interest in Mildred's daily life. Instead,
Guy just assumes that he knows and assumes that Mildred sits at home
all day, taking pills, watching TV, and connected to the headphones.
In particular, Guy is baffled by Mildred's connection to the TV,
referring them as "the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the nieces, the
nephews, that lived in those walls, the gibbering pack of tree apes
that said nothing, nothing, nothing, and said it loud, loud, loud"
(44). The TV is nonsense to him, as books are to Mildred. Later when
Guy reads out loud a line from a book she responds, "What does it
mean? It doesn't mean anything!" (68).

Clearly, the two have problems connecting. After Guy returns from
burning the old woman, her books, and her house, he comes back in a
funk. Mildred is aware of this, and does the best she can to help her
husband, but Guy doesn't see her efforts that way.

She talked to him for what seemed a long while and she talked about this and she talked about that and it was only words, like the words he had once in a nursery at a friend's house, a two-year-old child building word patterns, talking jargon, making pretty sounds in the air. (42)

Yet, later that night, thinking about the old woman he burned alive, Guy implies that his estrangement from his wife was due to the fact that she was always
listening to the Seashell headphones. "Well, then, why didn't he buy
himself an audio-Seashell broadcasting station to talk to his wife
late at night, murmur, whisper, shout, scream, yell?" (42).

Guy is completely unaware of his wife's attempts to connect with him.
Even though Mildred has tried to talk to her him, Guy sees his wife
as uncaring about everything except for her technology. Instead, Guy
wonders how his wife got "so empty?" (44). He blames their inability
to connect on the wall TVs, likening them to "a wall between him and
Mildred," because "No matter when he came in, the walls were always
talking to Mildred" (44). However, as shown earlier, when Mildred
tries to talk to her husband, he doesn't really listen. No wonder
Mildred feels that the TVs are her "family" (49) because at least they
respond (20).

This is not to say that Guy isn't correct about what's wrong with
Mildred. He recognizes that there was "another Mildred, that was a
Mildred so deep inside this one, and so bothered, really bothered,
that the two women had never met" (Bradbury, 52). But Guy is unaware
of how his own actions have contributed to alienation between the
couple. As we've seen, Mildred's feelings are not of great concern to
him, except when their interactions confirm his suspicions about the
effects of their censored society.

Friedan also recognized this growing problem among American women.
If a woman had a problem in the 1950's and 1960's, she knew that
something must be wrong with her marriage, or herself. Other women
were satisfied with their lives, she thought…She was so ashamed to
admit her dissatisfaction that she never knew how many other women
shared it. If she tried to tell her husband, he didn't understand
what she was talking about. She did not really understand it herself.
(Friedan, 19)

Mildred, may have in fact been aware of her problem. Again, it is
never clear why Mildred attempted suicide, and Guy spends little time
investigating the reasons behind it. However, regardless of whether
Mildred was aware or not, Guy gives her no reason to confide in him.
When Mildred tries to talk to her husband, he doesn't listen, so why
should she bother talking to him about a problem that Friedan termed
"the problem with no name?" (Friedan, 15).

Never does Guy ask Mildred about her day at any point throughout the
book. Instead she has make her husband notice that she too, has a
life, worthy of relating. "I had a nice evening," she says suddenly,
interrupting his complaints, the morning after Guy's melancholy about
the burning the old woman, an evening partially spent talking to a
husband who hadn't even been listening (49).

Even as Guy awakens to the effects of the censored society, he
remains just as firmly as ever in his mindset toward Mildred. Later
on in the novel, Guy criticizes his wife and her girlfriends for their
interactions with the wall TV. "Oh God, the way they jabber about
people and their own children and themselves and the way they talk
about their husbands and the way they talk about war, dammit, I stand
here and I can't believe it!" (98). But what other place, what other
escape is left for women in this world?

And it's not just Mildred who has this problem. When Guy finds his
wife near death, Guy calls for a medical team, and is surprised when
non-doctors arrive with a machine. They inform him bluntly, that
these cases happen often, "nine or ten a night" (15). In fact, they
had "Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special
machines built" (15). In this society, the suicide problem is so
endemic, that it is not even considered to be a major concern anymore.

Granted, clearly this censored society oppresses freedom of thought
from everyone, but for women, they are also oppressed by competing
strands of societal expectations of the ideal woman and a denigration
of their domestic experience.

A reflection of the time in which Fahrenheit 451 was written, Mildred evinces the 1950s domestic ideal of woman as housewife. Bradbury
recognized the discontent and alienation of Mildred, just as Friedan
would ten years later with with the pubication of The Feminine
. Though Guy attributed this disaffection as a problem of
society, Guy never stops to question how his own actions contribute to
Mildred's unhappiness, or of how Mildred's particular experience is
different from his own.
See also a general commentary of mine on "classic sci" here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

First Blog Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

Just try and tell me that Green Lantern would ever be put in a pose like that...

Hey my post On Catwoman was included in the First Blog Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans! This is an excellent collection of takes on pop culture.

Articles not to be missed include:

What happens when you draw male superheroes in the sexualized way that female superheroes are drawn

Speech by Joss Whedon on why he writes strong female characters

Why does the motivation for female heroes tend to be sexualized (as in rape)?

There are some fantastic articles here. Go procrastinate!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lois Lane and Lex Luthor Returns

I went into Superman Returns with high hopes and expectations. Bryan Singer, the director of The Usual Suspects and the first 2 X-men movies did a really good job with those movies and I was waiting to see his take on Superman. Though after seeing it, I left the movie theater with a sense that the movie was slightly "off key." It had all the elements that should have made it an excellent movie, but there were a number of things that kept it from hitting the right notes.

Brandon Routh? Ok, fine, he's hot, did a relatively decent job Clark Kent/ Superman, but he was boring. But you know what, Superman is boring. I mean, a guy who you know could survive near anything; where's the drama in that? The essential conflict in Superman is his double life as Clark Kent / Superman, and namely his interest in Lois Lane. Lois Lane is what makes Superman human, and interesting. The conflict and story of Superman, rests on the character of Lois Lane. (Which is why I thought the TV series Lois & Clark was very appropriately titled).

Let's talk about Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane. I admit, before I even saw the movie, I thought that casting Kate Bosworth was a bad choice. She's much too young to be Lois Lane, a hard-charging experienced reporter with a 7-year kid, and seeing the movie confirmed my beliefs. (Brandon Routh is also much too young to be Clark Kent, but that's another topic all together). You know you have a problem when Jimmy Olsen looks older then both Clark and Lois.

Anna Genoese found Bosworth to lack a certain gravitas, and I have to agree. I think both Teri Hatcher and Margot Kidder played much a much stronger, and balanced Lois Lane. (And my favorite part in the Lois & Clark series was when Clark proposes to Lois and she takes off his glasses, showing that she's known for quite awhile who Clark was).

However, James Marsden as Richard? Stroke of brilliance. He gave an excellent performance that really made you root for him (he's getting good at these characters who are involved with women who love other men isn't he? He played Cyclops in X-men).

Lex? Smallville's Lex Luthor, and even Superman: The Animated Series had a much better, much more evil and disturbed Lex Luthor. I'm not a big fan of Smallville, but Michael Rosenbaum has totally brought a new dimension to the character of Lex Luthor. (Can you tell that I think it takes Lois and Lex to make Superman interesting?) I was totally disappointed in Kevin Spacey, who is such a good actor, but hey you've got to work with what you're given. And why was there such a lame-ass plot about growing a continent in the Atlantic Ocean?

Parkey Posey as Lex's henchwoman? Absolutely terrible. I can see that Bryan Singer was trying to model her almost as a 1920s kind of a mob gal, but she was just annoying. If they had included Mercy, Lex's henchwoman in the comics (who is so tough that she's kicked the crap out of Catwoman), that would have made for a much more interesting story movie.

And also, as a nitpicking thing, why the hell was Metropolis completely populated by white people? Where were all the brown people? Sure Kal Penn was in it, but why the hell didn't he get a single line in the movie?

Still, this was a relatively good summer movie. The part where Superman saves a plane in mid-air? Classic. Despite it all, decent movie, though perhaps a matinee one.